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A NEW KIND OF WAR: A REPORT AND ANALYSIS


        ON THE U.S. CAMPAIGN TO END THE ISRAELI


           OCCUPATION’S WEST COAST PLANNING


                    CONFERENCE SEPT. 19-21, 2014


 


                                By Lee Kaplan                               


                          


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


A New Kind of War on Israel and the Jews Just Took Place at BDS Conference in San Diego: Something To Be Afraid Of


 


By Lee Kaplan


I attended undercover the west coast national planning conference of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation last September 19-21 in San Diego, California. The US Campaign is, in fact, the International Solidarity Movement , sometimes known as Palsolidarity, having been renamed and repackaged to serve  as the main nerve center for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel in the United States. Over 400 groups statewide dedicated to bringing down the Jewish state were represented.


A repetitive theme of this event was that truth was irrelevant if it stood in the way of destroying Israel or interfered with the BDS movement’s goals. Lying by omission was a favored tactic that presented just enough information to convey a false impression without telling the whole truth or story at this event. Where this tactic failed, outright lying was the method of the day.


Deconstructing the truth about Israel and its irredentist terrorist neighbors like Hamas to fool an unknowing American public was the main goal and, in terms of training new legions to go out and do that, the event was successful. This wasn’t about peace, but about de-legitimizing Israel to strengthen Hamas, nor was it about academic freedom or accurate scholasticism as it tried to suggest it was.


What also distinguished this planning event over previous years was that of the approximately 350 individual attendees and leaders, at least half were disaffected “Jews” who were dedicated to discrediting American Jewish and Christian institutions that support a Jewish state. The Arab front group Jewish Voice for Peace and the Jewish anti-Zionist Network were prominent promoters of schemes and propaganda working alongside Arab groups and BDS leaders   to devise “direct actions” and other methods of supporting Hamas and Palestinian terrorist goals under the guise of doing “humanitarian work” and fighting an imaginary “apartheid” and “genocide.” Such atrocities are allegedly perpetrated by Israeli and American Jewish groups   against “innocent” Arabs according to the conference.  A few radical homosexuals, some Jewish, also attended the event from Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT) to lend support to Arab irredentist goals despite the Arab world’s persecution of gays.


At no time during the three day event was the idea of “peace” used in any context where Israel’s survival as being part of a two state solution conveyed. Instead, assorted student leaders from the Students for Justice in Palestine, assorted Arab and U.S. academics, a large contingent of retirees and even some Christian pastors all gathered to find out how best to boycott the Jews and de-legitimize Israel. Only here the word “Jew” was substituted with the word “Zionist”, followed by a plethora of false accusations, stale communist revolutionary slogans and assorted pseudo-academic anti-colonialist rhetoric so popular on college campuses. “Racism” was also mentioned frequently while advocating racism against Jews in Israel as part of the program.   Hamas was scarcely mentioned, nor terrorism unless the words “Israeli terrorism” were used. Rockets being fired into Israel from Gaza were also not mentioned, save one remark from   attorney Marjorie Cohn from the National Lawyers Guild who spoke about what she termed the “one single little rocket” that was fired on Israel from Gaza (there were actually over 3,000 and many Israelis, even Arabs, were killed).


Terrorist Enablers Led the Charge


The conference began on a Friday night with a panel that featured Rahim Kurwa of the UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine chapter;   Rabab Abdulhadi, an Ethnic Studies “scholar” who is really more of an activist from San Francisco State University; Bill Mullen from the American Studies Association; and Marjorie Cohn from the National Lawyers Guild.


Kurwa introduced the audience to the event: “For what promises to be an amazing weekend of education and organization in solidarity work in the Palestinian struggle for liberation,” and said the event would serve for “the refreshing of Palestinian solidarity activism.”  He recounted changes in the BDS Movement from 2009, 2010 and 2012 to 2014 today. In 2009, he said, “Professor William Robinson at UC Santa Barbara was called to task for using his university website to promote boycotting Israel outside his field of study and objections were raised then by Jewish groups.” Robinson managed to weather the campaign when the University decided he could do so as part of “academic freedom,” Kurwa said. Part of Robinson’s campaign back then, which Kurwa didn’t discuss, was his use of photos of Palestinian “victims” of Israeli “atrocities” placed alongside photos from the Holocaust. In fact, many of the photos of alleged Palestinian “victims” were actually photos of Israelis being beaten by Israeli police as they were deported from their homes in the West Bank, or staged scenes of Arabs that had no comparison with the Holocaust despite claims to the contrary:


 Kurwa declared also that in 2009 that Jewish groups had attacked UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies as being biased against Israel particularly during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. He declared these attacks as being engineered solely because the Jewish groups didn’t like the message rather than being due to academic bias or propaganda. “What they are doing today,” he said, “is asking for the same thing they asked for five years ago: for Middle East studies to stop producing scholarship.”


 He went on to describe the disruption of Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine by UC Irvine’s Muslim Students Association and some Students for Justice in Palestine as a “brief disruption” (the event was closed down) that the Orange County district attorney misrepresented from “an exercise in free speech to an illegal conspiratorial act” (a conspiracy was proven about the event in court ) and various chapters of the SJP considered the action as part of a valid new system of “disrupting pro-Palestinian speakers throughout the UC system so they could not speak.” Kurwa accused the Orange County District Attorney of “twisting the law.”


Kurwa also alluded to the case of Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh in Chicago who is currently facing deportation   hearings due to what he again termed “twisting” of immigration laws to punish her for being pro-Palestinian. He conveniently ignored the fact that Odeh murdered two men in a supermarket bombing in Israel in 1989 for which she was sentenced to twenty years in prison but paroled by Israel after ten. Odeh later lied on her entry papers to the United States saying she had never been convicted of a felony. To avoid the deportation, Odeh and her supporters fabricated claims of torture while she was in prison in Israel, and of her father being brought to her cell in front of 45 Israeli policemen and being forced to disrobe in front of her and coerced to rape her in front of everyone. This is her argument for not being deported and it is a lie, especially since people do not realize that if Odeh’s deportation orders go through, she would not be sent back to Israel but to Jordan, the country she left from to go to the United States and where she lived after her parole. Odeh’s plight was a recurring cause celebre at this conference to try and get her deportation canceled.



Flashing forward to the more current events, Kurwa also bemoaned the recent sacking of Professor Stephen Salaita   from the University of Illinois at Champlain   because of his outspoken support for Palestine which Kurwa also deemed an abuse of academic freedom. Salaita was in fact sacked before he begin a term at that university after it was determined he had made multiple anti-Semitic public remarks against Jews and declared Israel an “apartheid state” when it is in fact the only state in the Middle East that does not practice apartheid. Given that the entire conference was based on half-truths and at times outright lies to forward its destroy- Israel- at- all -costs agenda,   it’s not much of a surprise that support for Salaita would be such a strong issue also at this event. The attendees were encouraged by Kurwa, “to find Professor Salaita a job someplace, somehow, so he could continue his work” and he, too, was named a cause celebre for those in attendance.


Next up to speak was Rabab Abdulhadi of SFSU. Abdulahdi, as a Professor of Ethnic Studies has had a career as a pro-Palestinian activist against Israel and the US on the California taxpayer’s dime and recently came under criticism for spending $7,000 of California tax dollars on a trip to the Middle East to “show solidarity” and meet with PFLP terrorist Laila Khaled . Khaled was one of the first terrorists to start airplane hijacking and is under house arrest in Jordan.


Abdulhadi devoted part of her speech to attacking AMCHA and Stand With Us campus, two Pro-Israel advocacy groups that exposed Abdulhadi’s expenditures and statements in support of groups like Hamas. She thanked the conference organizers for “...the amazing support they have shown me after I have been attacked by the AMCHA Initiative campaign. It could not have happened without you.” Abdulhadi accused such groups of violating “academic freedom” and her right to free speech.


Abdulhadi complained of what she termed a “collection of attacks” that she alleged were from pro-Israel groups during the war on Gaza “and what this means to us in terms of repression.”


Citing attacks on “pro-Palestinian students and myself” she alleged took place not only at San Francisco State, she elaborated a list of other colleges to include “UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, San Jose State, UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Vermont, Northeastern, Northwestern, University of Michigan, NYU, Brooklyn College and elsewhere...” that she said were conducted by AMCHA, Stand With Us, Simon Wiesenthal and other pro-Jewish groups as being further examples of “a campaign of repression” and “denials of academic freedom.”


She and the other speakers on the panel scoffed at requests by such pro-Israel groups for “civility” from pro-Palestinian and BDS groups on campuses, such requests deemed as being “merely attempts to stifle debate.”   This flew in the face of numerous physical attacks on pro-Israel students, even non-Jews, across the country by BDS groups.


She continued, “These attacks [by pro-Israel groups] are part of a very long history of repression and I’d like to send some as old as myself back to the Los Angeles 8 who were attacked by President Bush who then failed in trying to intimidate debate.” The LA 8 were prosecuted over twenty years ago for deportations after the FBI found fundraising and connections from them to the PFLP terrorist group, the same one Leila Khaled belongs to. Abdulhadi then said the government “...wanted to build internment camps for the citizens of 7 Arab countries and Iran and put people like the Japanese during World War II in them.”


Abdulhadi went on to praise the current SFSU President who she maintained in private had assured her he would never let groups like AMCHA or Stand with Us deny her “academic freedom”   whereas “...the previous president had sought to control my behavior.” She continued adamantly, “I have a right to spend public tax dollars to teach social justice if I want to.”  


She then went into a litany of revolutionary dialog, declaring Israel guilty of colonialism, an example of “white settlers taking advantage of an indigenous population.” She even included the situation in Ferguson as an example of where what the termed the indigenous black population was being abused by “the white settler community and the police department”—a rather silly statement.   Incredibly, she also said the police officer who slew Michael Brown had  been trained by Israel ( a complete lie) and complained about the “militarization” of the police “as a way of taking advantage of the haves and have- nots.”


She extended this idea to the recent war in Gaza as an example of the “haves” (Israel) taking advantage of the “have-nots” (the Palestinians). But then she claimed the Palestinians would rather live under bombardment by the Israelis and “stand tall” than capitulate to the Israeli government and she predicted a Third Intifada in the near future. She alluded to Palestinian cooperation with the ANC in fighting South African apartheid from SFSU in the 80’s   (Jewish students did this also back then) and complained pointedly about the arrest of Sami al-Arian who was the US head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in 2001, as if this was some form of oppression (Al-Arian was responsible for the deaths of over 100 people including some Americans through terrorist attacks).  She attributed these events to racism by the “Zionists.” She declared in spite of setbacks like the war in Gaza and against BDS that their movement “...is more legitimate today for Palestinians than it ever was.” Abdulhadi, who went to the Middle East to show “solidarity” with a PFLP terrorist and consistently spoke of Palestinians aligning themselves with the likes of Hamas, concluded her speech by saying the BDS movement that day would mean “ ‘Never Again’ for anyone,” referring to Jewish resolve against another Holocaust. Considering her support for groups and individuals whose charter and verbiage call for the annihilation of all world Jewry, her concluding remarks were surreal.



The evening concluded with Marjorie Cohn of the National Lawyers Guild, who, in addition to her shoddy math about rocket attacks on Israel, gave a long lecture on how BDS and anti-Israel advocates on campus could preserve their right to speak on campus, explaining what was legal and what was not legal. A pamphlet was also circulated to everyone in attendance. It was mentioned that some campuses had tried to “silence” pro-Palestinian speakers and she explained the law to everyone to see they would not be “silenced.” She mentioned earlier in the evening that she and the NLG were excoriated by Alan Dershowitz, an Israel supporter, for dishonesty and use of the law to promote BDS in America . She stated that she was very proud of Dershowitz’s vituperation against her. “I took it as a badge of honor,” she said.


 


Next up was Bill Mullen, a history professor and   faculty advisor to SJP at Purdue. Mullen spoke about the Academic Studies Association’s (ASA’s) recent vote to boycott Israeli academics and programs. Mullen was highly critical and derisive of pro-Israel groups who opposed this, citing his own interpretation of academic freedom. According to Mullen, such opposition groups called for “civility” in academia when it came to discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict, Mullen declaring such requests an attempt to control unpopular ideas from the pro-Palestinian camp that would hinder critical thinking. Actually, such “civility” is supposed to mean not lying about Israeli history and actions (a frequent tactic at this conference also) or condoning terrorist groups   and their  tactics (such as defining terrorism as “legitimate resistance.”). Mullen further suggested it referred only to legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies and was just an effort to indoctrinate students from learning for themselves. He didn’t bother to mention that the vote and lobbying for this boycott activity in the ASA was carried out by Noura Erekat and some Palestinian plants along with some 80 Arab professors in the ASA who promote BDS and whose sole purpose of being there was to be a stacked deck to push for a boycott of Israeli institutions and to do so by misrepresentation if need be. Noura Erekat is the niece Saeb Erekat, Arafat’s second-in-command of the PLO and no slouch when it comes to lying about Israel committing atrocities against Arabs (Saeb claimed, for example, that the entire city of Jenin and its Arab population were wiped out by Israel; as a result he was banned from several television stations for doing so). In keeping with the tactic of lying by omission, Mullen failed to point out that boycotting Israeli academics and professors, rather than being an exercise in academic freedom was in fact a way to deny academic freedom to the pro-Israel camp by silencing anything they had to say and preventing them from proving when the BDS advocates in the ASA were lying. Documentation from the US Campaign who staged this conference, documentation that is generally fraudulent or leaves out details, was used as a basis for   a petition to boycott Israel from within the ASA.

                                                                     


The evening concluded with Marjorie Cohn of the National Lawyers Guild, who, in addition to her shoddy math about rocket attacks on Israel, gave a long lecture on how BDS and anti-Israel advocates on campus could preserve their right to speak on campus, explaining what was legal and what was not legal. A pamphlet was also circulated to everyone in attendance. It was mentioned that some campuses had tried to “silence” pro-Palestinian speakers and she explained the law to everyone to see they would not be “silenced.” She mentioned earlier in the evening that she and the NLG were excoriated by Alan Desrhowitz, an Israel supporter, for dishonesty and use of the law to promote BDS in America . She stated that she was very proud of Dershowitz’s vituperation against her. “I took it as a badge of honor,” she said.

 


 THE BREAKOUT AND PLANNING SESSIONS


Saturday was devoted to revolving sessions that covered different planning and strategies to promote BDS against Israel in the United States.


The morning session was titled Mainstreaming BDS & Connecting Struggles and featured several speakers, but notably Suhad Khatib from the US Campaign and Gabriel Schivone, a “youth organizer” with UNIDOS intelligence-based ethnic studies group in Tucson, AZ.   This plenary was to introduce a recurring theme throughout the conference that the BDS movement can find greater numbers and alliances by reaching out in cooperation with other activist groups, particularly ones that are anti-U.S. and see America as a colonialist oppressor. It was pointed out, for example, that Elbit systems, an Israeli company held the contract for surveillance technology along the U.S.-Mexican border and also declared an example of the militarization of police and immigration forces in the United States.


An example of a synergistic approach to BDS was suggested utilizing the people from both BDS and immigration groups would be to coordinate riots as like occur every Friday in the villages in the West Bank in the Holy Land to happen at the same time with similar ones at the U.S.-Mexican border to point out the need for BDS.   G48, a British firm that provided prison services in Israel, was said to have pulled out of Israel as a result of the BDS movement tying itself to various “social justice” groups in the UK. Likewise, the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson was cited as another opportunity to promote BDS against Israel in the United States and that ‘similar tactics’ could be used to justify violence, including the “dehumanization of victims and corporate media distortions of reality”. It was claimed again that a member of the St. Louis County Police Department who had killed Michael   Brown had trained in Israel in the past, so as to tie Israeli complicity into the Brown shooting. Nobody mentioned that Brown was shot by an officer from the Ferguson police department who had nothing to do with Israel and Michael Brown was not shot by anyone in the St. Louis County Police Department. Not to be deterred by the truth, a week after this conference, an email went out from the US Campaign and from its national leader, Anna Baltzer, calling for a “Palestinian contingent” to be sent to Ferguson to try and make the rioting and Brown killing part of the BDS agenda and connecting it to work for “Palestinian rights” by linking it with other movements for justice, even the environment. Attendees were told how to approach these environmental or racial groups and convince them the BDS movement would help them and that both movements should join together in teamwork to “fight oppression”.


As an example, the Block the Boats campaign against the Zim corporation was mentioned, because it got several longshoremen to refuse to unload the Israeli cargo ships for four days in two major ports. It was alleged the workers lost their income for those days because they believed they were fighting apartheid and helping the human rights of the Palestinians. The fact that Israel is the only state in the Middle East that does NOT practice apartheid and extends full civil rights to all its Arab citizens would be unknown to the stevedores. This is an example why lying by omission is so successful.


It is easy to imagine why the BDS advocates are able to do this.   Since they have a number of “Jews” who are active in their movement, they can approach a union local alongside some union members who may be invited along with and belong to socialist action groups who can  introduce them to each other such as International ANSWER . They tell the other union workers that Israel is an apartheid state like South Africa was in the 1980’s (these union locals were involved in fighting apartheid in South Africa back then). They regale the current membership with tales of Israeli atrocities, such as attacks on children or lie to them about Arabs being discriminated against in Israel like it used to be in South Africa. It’s not true, but they convince the workers to forego some days of work to help the Palestinian cause and for “human rights”. In turn, the pro-Palestinian activists promise to turn out for any union protests or actions where they might be needed.   Conference attendees were told to look beyond their own immediate needs as Palestinian activists to understand and express sympathy for these other social justice movements, to suggest a unity in fighting oppression. By having so-called “Jews” advocating to boycott other Jews in Israel because they are allegedly “oppressing” an Arab minority then doesn’t seem unreasonable.   The hardcore unionists who may belong to communist-inspired union groups or socialist action leagues are more than willing to go along.


The next seminar was titled “Exposing the 1% & Israel’s Agenda to Silence Criticism & Promote Anti-Muslim & Anti-Arab Racism; Organizing Against the Backlash In Ways to Strengthen Our Movement, Resident Joint Struggle, and Weaken Our Opposition.” The two key speakers at this event   were “Jews” who claimed to represent the 98% or the “poor”, the rest of “us” as were allegedly represented at the Occupy Movement events of last year in the US. The presentation was led by Max Geller , the leader of the Northeastern University chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine and Sara Kershnar, founder of the “ International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.


Geller, in keeping with the tactic of lying by omission, introduced himself as an oppressed Jewish student who was briefly expelled from Northeastern University merely for demonstrating on behalf of the poor oppressed Palestinians. He was reinstated after his university was sued by the ACLU. The uninitiated might believe he was unfairly treated. What he never told his audience was that he was expelled by Northeastern after he had posed for photographs with a machine gun in support of Palestinian terrorist groups in the West Bank. The University felt this was conduct unbecoming one of their students. The ACLU argued it was merely an exercise in free speech. Not wishing to be drawn into an expensive drawn out lawsuit he was readmitted by the University. “Can someone take a photograph of me to show my mother?, he asked from the podium, clearly proud to be the center of attention, the token Jew leading the charge against the Jews in the Middle East. Sara Kershnar followed him and gave a presentation that outlined an interview of the national funding sources for pro-Israel activism in the United States from top to bottom that she said were well-funded to smear and lie about the Palestinian movement. She placed on a board a list of Jewish philanthropies such as the Koret Foundation, the Koch Brothers and others, about twelve of them, that she said provide the bulk of the funding, “...the 1%” she claimed. Then she presented a secondary list that began with Daniel Pipes and the Middle East Forum, the Israel Project and Stand With Us that she said were doled out funds to distribute on lower levels to deal with Palestinian activism. Motioning to her audience she said “most of you as individuals had no doubt on a personal level been the targets of such funding by such groups as Stand With Us.” They concluded with a discussion on how to expose these organizations to the public as being behind the “backlash” against BDS and existing to promote the oppression of the disadvantaged the BDS movement was allegedly protecting.


Thus, starving the Jews out in the Middle East through boycotts and divestments is something these activists sought to promote “justice” both on and off campus in America. At the same time, exposing the wealthy financial support behind the pro-Israel movement to the public was one way they sought to show who the “exploiters” are--rich Jews and their institutions. While nobody said this directly, my initial interpretation of this event was the organizers wanted to show the attendees how those “rich Jews,” the 1%, are behind the alleged oppression of the poor Palestinians and other groups needing “social justice.” This way, other social justice movements in the United States could be convinced it was their duty to stop them by supporting the Palestinian cause through BDS. As mentioned, no mention was made of Hamas and the millions of dollars its leadership has stolen in foreign aid money even from its own people. In other words, Gazans are to be the victims of the “rich Jews,” so much so that of the 1% per cent who are Jews even some among them as at this conference, are supporting BDS.




The next session was a meeting of the Students for Justice ( SJP ) in Palestine-West


The SJP is said to be on over 80 campuses in the United States. In the past, these chapters usually worked independently of each other with no centralized control. Now the SJP has created both a West Coast central headquarters as well as a National headquarters to coordinate these groups so actions can happen simultaneously across the country and information and resources can be shared and funds raised. Divestment would be the main strategy of SJP chapters working the BDS movement on their campuses. This convention section allowed SJP students to meet each other and network, and tied in with another session titled “Resisting the McCarthysim on Campus: Know Your Rights and Understanding Trends in Palestinian Organizing. Led by Liz Jackson, of Palestine Legal Support , a new legal arm set up to defend BDS and anti-Israel activism on campuses that used to be done mainly by the National Lawyers Guild and sometimes the ACLU. The other spokespeople were from the UCLA SJP and as usual one “Jewish” representative from the Jewish Voice for Peace, a largely Marxist front group that strongly supports BDS against Israel. This session declared that Palestinian free speech was under attack, unfairly, on many campuses merely for criticizing Israel. To hear it told at this event, there are no mock check